Callum Davidson backing Finn to finally make impact as he gives details of striker crisis before cup semi-final v Celtic

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson has challenged others to step up to the mark following injuries to key strikers with the Perth side preparing to take the familiar road to Hampden this weekend.

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson is ruing injuries to Glenn Middleton and Stevie May ahead of cup semi-final v Celtic  (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson is ruing injuries to Glenn Middleton and Stevie May ahead of cup semi-final v Celtic (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Glenn Middleton has been ruled out of Saturday evening’s Premier Sports Cup semi-final against Celtic after he injured his hamstring playing up front for Scotland Under 21s in the 2-0 defeat against Belgium at Tannadice on Tuesday.

The latest blow compounds earlier news that Stevie May has been ruled out until Christmas after sustaining a knee injury in training. David Wothersoon will also be assessed having not arrived in the country until last night after sitting on the bench as Canada took another step towards World Cup qualification with a 2-1 win over Mexico in Edmonton on Tuesday.

It adds up a problematic countdown for a team bidding to retain the trophy.

“Glenn will be out on Saturday,” confirmed Davidson. “He’s tweaked his hamstring. We’ll need to find out how bad it is. Glenn hasn’t had a muscle injury before in his career. We’ll find out the full extent of it. Hopefully it’s just a little strain and he won’t be out for too long.

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“We’ve got some big games coming up after this one and we need to make sure he’s OK. It’s not that long ago we were struggling with defenders and I had loads of attackers. Now it’s the other way around.”

The shortage of options up front creates an opportunity for Eetu Vertainen, whose lack of game-time so far this season has been a source of mystery for Saints fans. The Finn has only been seen on three occasions when making late entrances as a substitute.

He has yet to start a game since being granted a work permit in September. Davidson has challenged the striker to take advantage of the situation and demonstrate how determined he is to make an impact at Saints.

The situation mirrors that of Guy Melamed, who arrived at the club after the start of last season and took a while to get up and running. He did ultimately prove his worth by scoring seven goals, including the winner in the Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Dundee, before leaving in the summer.

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Davidson suggested Vertainen will be given the chance to show what he can do sooner rather than later. Chris Kane is suspended for next weekend’s league clash with Hibs which could mean Vertainen being handed his first start of the season.

“Eeetu has looked a lot better and we’ve got Ali Crawford, Michael O’Halloran and David Wotherspoon who can all play in forward positions so it’s there chance to show what they can do,” said Davidson.

On Vertainen specifically, he added: “It is difficult when you come from a different league and a different country.

“Style of play, pitches, team-mates, language are all new. Eetu’s had to be patient. Stevie May is going to be out for a while. He’ll manage to get starts in the games coming up and it’s up to him what he does.

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“It will depend on how hungry he is and how much he wants to be successful. There is a slight difference with Guy. Guy was a penalty box goalscorer and Eetu is a bit more rounded as a player.”

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